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Hankins v. Wetzel

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 27, 2015

ROBERT HANKINS, Plaintiff
v.
JOHN WETZEL, ET AL., Defendants

MEMORANDUM

RICHARD P. CONABOY, District Judge.

Background

Robert Hankins (Plaintiff), an inmate presently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (SCI-Huntingdon) filed this pro se civil rights action in May, 2011 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 56) raises claims relating to his prior confinement in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) at the Rockview State Correctional Institution, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania (SCI-Rockview).[1]

A motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Bureau of Health Care Services was previously granted. By Memorandum and Order dated February 26, 2013, a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Physician's Assistants (PAs) Jeremy Tipton and Julie Pensiero-Koltay, was partially granted and dismissal was granted in favor of Defendant Tipton. Defendant Pensiero-Koltay's motion seeking entry of summary judgment was recently granted by Memorandum and Order dated March 3, 2015. See Docs. 223 & 224.

The other Defendants named in the Amended Complaint include multiple Jane Doe Nurses and the following officials of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC): Secretary John Wetzel; Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal; Regional Staff Assistants Brad Newton and Jeffrey Witherite; Grievance Officers Michael Bell and Dorina Varner. Plaintiff also named the following SCI-Rockview officials: Superintendent Marirosa Lamas; Unit Managers Kurt Granlund and Sharon Clark; Deputy Superintendents Brian Thompson, Robert Marsh, and Jeff Horton; Program Manager Tim Miller; Superintendent's Assistant Jeffrey Rackovan; Health Care Administrator William "Ted" Williams; Major George Snedeker; Lieutenants Daniel Fox, John Grice, John Graham, and Amy Nixon; Mail Room Supervisor Steward Boone; Business Manager Francis Daugherty; Accountant Beatrice Rivello; Sergeant John Knight. (The above-named Defendants, with the exception of the Jane Doe Nurses, are hereinafter referred to as the "Corrections Defendants")

A motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint filed by the Corrections Defendants was partially granted by Memorandum and Order dated March 26, 2013. See Doc. 103. Specifically, dismissal was granted with respect to: (1) Hankins' damage claims against Corrections Defendants in their official capacities; (2) all toe nail trimming related claims; (3) the temporary denial of sensitive toothpaste claim; (4) the allegations pertaining to a delay in providing Plaintiff with eyeglasses and the failure to provide him with tinted glasses.

Dismissal was also granted as to any claims against Secretary Wetzel, Deputy Secretary Moore Smeal, Regional Staff Assistants Newton and Witherite, and Grievance Officers Bell and Varner of the DOC as well as Superintendent Lamas, Deputy Superintendents Thompson, Marsh, and Horton, Program Manager Miller, Superintendent's Assistant Rackovan, Major Snedeker, and Unit Manager Clark of SCI-Rockview based upon their respective supervisory capacities or their handling of Plaintiff's administrative grievances and complaints. The requests for dismissal of Plaintiff's claims of denial of access to the courts; equal protection violations; loss of personal property claims; total movement restriction related claims; RLUPIA and religious interference claims were also granted.

As a result of the March 26, 2013 Memorandum and Order, dismissal was granted in favor of the following DOC Defendants, Secretary John Wetzel; Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal; Regional Staff Assistants Brad Newton and Jeffrey Witherite; Grievance Officers Michael Bell and Dorina Varner. However, Hankins' claims that: (1) he was prevented from purchasing and/or receiving publications of any kind while in the Restricted Housing Unit; (2) subjected to retaliation for pursuing legal remedies; and (3) interference with his incoming mail were allowed to proceed.

In addition, the Plaintiff was also granted thirty (30) days in which to provide this Court with the names of the Jane Doe Defendants and was forewarned that failure to do so to would result in dismissal being entered in favor of the Jane Doe Defendants.[2]

Presently pending is Remaining Corrections Defendants' motion seeking entry of summary judgment. See Doc. 177. The opposed motion is ripe for consideration.[3]

Discussion

Remaining Corrections Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because: (1) Plaintiff fails to establish any First Amendment violations and (2) Hankins has not established retaliation as a matter of law. See Doc. 140, p. 2.

Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper if "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); See also Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 231-32 (3d Cir. 2001). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id . at 248. The court must resolve all doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact in favor of the non-moving party. Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232; see also Reeder v. ...


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